.i la lojban mo
September 12, 2002 8:44 PM   Subscribe

.i la lojban mo
Lojban is in many ways like any other language. There's an English-Lojban dictionary. There's a Lojban grammar. You can even get your news at Nuzban, a Lojban-only news site.

Lojban, however, is a completely constructed language. Why Lojban? Well, Lojban came from Loglan, an invented language from the 1950's (Loglan was created as an experiment to study the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: succinctly, the idea that language and culture are hopelessly intertwined) Today, there are hundreds of invented languages and a thriving language construction community. Alongside well-known constructs such as Tolkien's elven languages and Klingon, there's also d'ni - the language of Myst, a language of flowers, opus-2 - a language that shuns word order and Teonat - a language of the imaginary inhabitants of Teon.
With the help of online language construction kits, you too can create your own language.
posted by vacapinta (34 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
With the help of online language construction kits, you too can create your own language.

Some Me-Fites are way ahead of ya, vacapinta, my man.
posted by jonmc at 8:49 PM on September 12, 2002

Mi subtenas la Esperanton movadon. But I would abandon it in a flash for a demonstrably better alternative conlang, since what I really support is the idea of a universal second language. I must look into that again -- surely Esperanto has been surpasse d several times by now in terms of consistency, logical formulations, and limited similarity to national languages? P
posted by sennoma at 8:59 PM on September 12, 2002

Xmxx j lytc. Okmj ayc bheyrb kmo!
posted by billder at 9:17 PM on September 12, 2002

Fascinating subject. Thanks for the links! Do you think MeFi would be a kinder, gentler place if we all used the language of flowers?

Foxglove [weblog], Spanish jasmine rose walnut.

"I-am-ambitious-for-your [weblog], sensual-love-intellect."

Hm. Try as I might, I couldn't find a way to say 'weblog' in the language of flowers. However, Ficoides means 'addresses rejected', which would be perfect for a 404 page.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:23 PM on September 12, 2002 [2 favorites]

Also be sure to check out Talossan, the official language of the Kingdom of Talossa (I think its in Wisconsin.) Their immigration office is online.
posted by vacapinta at 9:36 PM on September 12, 2002

I trust no artificial language until Shatner says it's okay.
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 9:37 PM on September 12, 2002

mi [cu] tavla le mo klama [ku] ri [vau]
I talk to the what-kind-of go-er about itself?

So that's how you say it!
posted by Ljubljana at 9:38 PM on September 12, 2002

My favourite invented language is Toki Pona.
Only 150 words to learn, very soothing too.
posted by y10k at 9:54 PM on September 12, 2002

Had the poster pegged before I finished the first sentence.
A post sublime as always.
6915 has never posted?
Oh, the coherent English only thing...
posted by y2karl at 9:55 PM on September 12, 2002

vaghep li'uzh niqeqan
where is-located nutrient-place
Where is the nutrient station?

borgh :) Hi'uH 'il jam. qilajush ghorv!
posted by kliuless at 10:01 PM on September 12, 2002

Although I'm not certain at all that a formulation of Sapir-Whorf along the lines of 'a close relationship between the structure of a language and the culture that uses that language' can be argued (and few would do so, it seems), I am nonetheless quite inclined to believe the Lojban formulation has something going for it : "the structure of language constrains the thought patterns of participants in the culture associated with that language."

Contrains might not be the verb I'd choose, but hey hoopla.

I am a layman, linguistically, but I'm fascinated by the way in which a language can influence and shape the ways in which speakers of that language perceive the world and interact with it and other speakers of that language.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:01 PM on September 12, 2002

"the structure of language constrains the thought patterns of participants in the culture associated with that language."

I'm too drunk to disprove the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in this comment box, but basically, the work that made Noam Chomsky famous completely destroys this idea. Every human language has the same deep grammar, which is why infants can learn to speak with even minimal exposure to spoken language. Everything you've heard about different languages' constructions for time altering how people perceive the world is bunk. The Eskimos don't even have that many words for snow.

Read Steve Pinker's "The Language Instinct" if you're really interested in the subject.
posted by lbergstr at 10:26 PM on September 12, 2002

Gorgeous post. I may move to the mountains and spend my life speaking opus-2:

world: car door slamming
glorify: deep red
dangerous: mothballs

That is so fucking excellent.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:28 PM on September 12, 2002

My favorite invented language is definitely solresol. Well, actually I haven't quite got around to learning it just yet, but in theory I love it.
posted by Acetylene at 11:24 PM on September 12, 2002

I'm too drunk to disprove the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in this comment box

Too long to be a tagline perhaps, but I love this comment with an unholy passion. And I'm still sober!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:19 AM on September 13, 2002

Chomsky may still be revered in academics (mostly for his politics), but his work in linguistics has grown truly terrible. The most damning point: while he makes many claims about the features that all languages share, he actually knows virtually nothing about languages other than English. He will frequently back up a claim he makes with English evidence, entirely unaware that English is one of few languages (or even the only known language) that behave(s) that way.

And while he claims this is irrelevant, I think it's kind of important that it is physically impossible for the human brain to perform the number of operations that his "minimalist" theory of grammar demands of it in real time.
posted by Epenthesis at 12:34 AM on September 13, 2002

good golly miss molly, the list of constructed languages could keep me occupied for the next month or so. Amazing links! I was trying to find a language(or subset of english) that uses only three letter words? was that ever posted to metafilter? or has anyone heard of it? or seen it on the constructed languages page?

super duper post. Thanks!
posted by darkpony at 1:27 AM on September 13, 2002

It's call Mad Ape Den, darkpony. A quick googling should take you from there...
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:37 AM on September 13, 2002

MERCI! Was it ever on metafilter? is that where I learned about it?
posted by darkpony at 1:38 AM on September 13, 2002

Me Fi Mad Ape Den.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:44 AM on September 13, 2002

stavros, lberg, epennthesis:

The current synthesis of Linguistic Determinism and Deep Structure doesn't seem to negate one theory over the other, it just constrains them a bit.

"Individual words and grammatical patterns of our language almost certainly do NOT shape our thinking processes, otherwise it would be next to impossible to translate a sentence from e.g. Hopi into English. What may well work upon our thinking is the metaphors we use to talk about abstracts such as time. It's probably very hard to explain to a Hopi-speaker that we envision time as a commodity such as money... Other metaphors may well be shared by speakers of many if not all languages, e.g. that the mind is a container ... and these are readily translated."

Or whatever. I must admit I'm little more than an intrigued observer in this contact sport.
posted by raaka at 3:52 AM on September 13, 2002

pyrex dominorb tends to chukkwads daily. under froop keybust, even.
posted by quonsar at 4:58 AM on September 13, 2002

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is intriguing - I have a long-held but ill-formed and not at all researched theory that people turn out the way they are in part because of their name. Because the people around them tend to treat them as if they are like others they know of the same name, they react to the treatment and take on some traits of the people they are treated like. Or something. Hey, I said it was ill-formed.
posted by dg at 5:08 AM on September 13, 2002

I'm thrilled with this post in general, the language of flowers link in particular. I'm printing it right this minute. I work in the upstairs offices of a flower shop, and I memorized most of the language of flowers during my first week there, for my own amusement. I inwardly groan when a man courting a woman sends her yellow roses (jealousy, regret) or purple roses (deep sorrow) but I never say anything; the language of flowers is pretty much a lost one, and hardly anyone cares what they signify anyway, as long as they're pretty.

Last week a man sent his wife a butterfly bush ("I don't want you anymore") and another man sent his fiance some asters ("You're an afterthought", "I like variety"). I laugh to myself a lot.
posted by iconomy at 5:09 AM on September 13, 2002 [1 favorite]

Another incredible post by vacapinta. Thanks!
posted by *burp* at 6:52 AM on September 13, 2002

Arsenal. Nose Army. Beef Diaper? Smell sign.
posted by sj at 7:08 AM on September 13, 2002

great links as usual vacapinta. thanks.

there's a strange irony in the creation of these artificial languages while hundreds of indiginous 'real' are rapidly disappearing forever. funnily enough, I just finished John Mcwhorters Power of Babel which I can recommend as a fascinating read to anyone with an interest in the oddities of 'real' languages
posted by gravelshoes at 7:29 AM on September 13, 2002

This certainly brings back memories of the days when my life was structured around reading the CONLANG list.

My favorite constructed language has to be Elet Anta. So elegant and such a cool backstory.

Vacapinta, I think maybe you've inspired me to finally crack open the Lojban grammar I bought years ago and haven't looked at since, to my shame.

And hey, whaddaya know, the Wayback Machine still has copies of my conlang notes from 1999 that I haven't looked at in ages. I love you, Wayback Machine.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:35 AM on September 13, 2002

I'm too drunk to disprove the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in this comment box

I have discovered a truly remarkable disproof which this comment box is too small to contain.
posted by kindall at 9:32 AM on September 13, 2002 [1 favorite]

toki pona li toki pona
posted by vacapinta at 12:17 PM on September 13, 2002

My favorite conlang was ALLNOUN which was, curiously, all nouns (and 4 punctuation marks) by Tom Breton. Sadly, all trace of ALLNOUN appears to have been lost, except for the old FAQ at webarchive.

Are you out there, Tom?
posted by Cerebus at 1:06 PM on September 13, 2002

More on ALLNOUN. As for Breton, he seems to have been quite ill, although prolific in terms of artificial and computer languages. Ah: Tom Breton's home page is on Panix now, and has posted to comp.ai.nat-lang (and buffy fan groups) quite recently.
posted by dhartung at 2:19 PM on September 13, 2002

Chomsky may still be revered in academics (mostly for his politics)

I'm pretty sure he's revered despite his politics, actually.
posted by lbergstr at 3:28 PM on September 13, 2002

tenpo la utala li kama jan chomsky li jan suli pona
posted by gravelshoes at 5:13 PM on September 13, 2002

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